Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Midsummer Glut . Successes and Failures . My Own Homegrown Revolution .

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This is the month where you have to put on your thinking cap and decide how you are going to use up all those crops that are coming thick and fast - courgettes, runner and french beans and summer squash - to name but a few.  This is my harvest for the last week.  When you pick one or two things everyday it soon mounts up and when I unloaded the salad drawer of the fridge I was astonished at just how many beans and courgettes I had picked.

But not everything in the garden is rosy.  I have had my failures too. 

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Due to the hot, dry weather – lettuce, spinach and chard have bolted and gone to seed – even though I have watered them every evening.

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And worst of all, the Romanesco cauliflowers have done the same – a big disappointment, I was really looking forward to tasting these again this year.

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I’m not counting tomatoes as a failure yet, even though I am a bit disappointed that not many have ripened yet, that’s just me being impatient, but the fact that they have been slow to set.  The ones pictured are Marmande, as ugly as ever, with only two trusses on the plants, which haven’t even reached the top of their canes yet. 

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One of the successes have been the onions, which after a slow start are all a fair size, and they have now been pulled and are drying on racks.

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Another success is the chilli plant, I only have one, but as you can see, it has produced more than enough chillis for one household.

And, surprise, surprise – I have sweet peppers.  They weren’t doing very well at all in the greenhouse, so I planted them outside and told them they would just have to take their chances.  And they did.  Look.

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And as for the outdoor cucumbers, well, they are way behind those in the greenhouse – but at least they are producing fruits, although the slugs seem to have taken a fancy to them.

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Now for the Homegrown Revolution bit.  I bought three types of James Wongs’ seeds.  Inca Berries which were immediately devoured by the greenhouse snail, Cucamelons and Tomatillo.  The trouble is when you are growing something that is new to you, you aren’t sure what to expect.  This is the Cucamelon plant.

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It has grown huge and has practically taken over the back of the greenhouse, linking its tendrils to anything it can find to support it, but if you look closely you can see the fruits forming, here is a closer look.

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The plant was really weak and spindly for ages and I didn’t think it would make it, but boy look at it now.  Now we just have to wait and see if the fruit lives up to expectation.  The other survivors are the Tomatillo plants, something else I haven’t grown before.  The fruits are hidden inside paper cases, a little like chinese lanterns, they have grown really tall and are full of flower, so I am hopeful of a good harvest.

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So that’s me up to date – I have done another round of sowing; salad leaves, french beans, chard and carrots so far – oh and I’ve dug up a row of potatoes, Charlotte, and from five plants I have a bucketful of potatoes.  I’m really quite pleased with the results.

And just to finish off I though I would show you a charity shop find which I’m dead chuffed with

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Not bad eh.  A lovely chopping board for herbs in solid wood with a nifty chopper as well, can’t be bad for £3.00.

 

What have your successes and failures been this year?

48 comments:

  1. These chilli peppers look great!

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    1. I think I had better take off the red ones to give the others a chance to ripen - it is such a pretty plant.

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  2. that`s a corker of a find in the charity shop

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    1. Too right - I snapped it up - and the first thing I did was cut my finger on the blade. Tut!

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  3. That cucamelon sounds interesting! I've never seen one of those. On the other hand, I have had a go with tomatillos a couple of times. I found them to be very prolific, but I couldn't find many ways to use the fruit. Not as versatile as a tomato.

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    1. I'm certainly looking forward to trying the cucamelons. As for tomatillos it says in the book that they can be used in the same way as tomatoes but are slightly tarter. They are apparently good in salsa verde. But as you say I can't imagine they are as versatile as tomatoes, but hey I'm willing to try anything once.

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    2. On my blog somewhere there is a recipe for pork casserole with chipotle and tomatillo - i.e. "Mexican style", which might be worth a go. Likewise, I published a post abot making tomatillo salsa...

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    3. Thanks Mark - I'll do a search for them when the Tomatillos are ready.

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  4. What a bargain Elaine. My one and only cucamelon died some time ago - will be interested to hear what you think about its taste. Same dilemma here with French beans and courgettes :)

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    1. It was touch and go as to whether the cucamelons would survive or whether the slugs would get to them first - there is loads of fruit on them, whether they will all mature is another matter.

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  5. Well done on the success with the cucamelon, mine failed. Great looking harvest. X

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    1. Oh that's a shame - do you think you'll try again next year - for me it all depends how useful they are in the kitchen.

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    2. I will try again Elaine, I think my kids might like them. Like you say, it is about how useful they are in the kitchen. I grew the asparagus pea and was unimpressed with the flavour and texture so I won't be growing those again. X

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  6. seriously..from the charity shop...oh it is wonderful Elaine..just wonderful. No wonder you are chuffed!! It looks to beautiful to use which I guess is why it is in such condition. Such a find!

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    1. I couldn't resist it - even though it is lovely - I will definitely be putting it to good use.

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  7. I presume the Mezza Luna was an unwanted Christmas present! Lucky you.

    I ate my first picking of Swiss Chard last night... what simple pleasure, it was delicious. A bit like you, my crops are just beginning to overwhelm.

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    1. I knew that it had a name but couldn't bring it to mind - Mezza Luna makes it sound very exotic. My swiss chard is rubbish this year and has gone to seed already - I have just sown some seed for another batch - maybe now it has cooled off a bit I may get a decent late harvest.

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  8. Very nice looking crops Elaine. Some failures are to be expected considering the awkward weather conditions again this year. I'm still waiting for my Tomatoes and Cucumbers to ripen. I'm thinking about next season already, what to sow and what not. Over wintering this time may be an option for me.

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    1. I agree we will soon have to give overwintering crops some thought - it is a neverending cycle.

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  9. What a fantastic find in the charity shop. Although our lettuce bolted, I still continued to use it, stripping the leaves off the plant but discarding more of the larger ones. I increased the potency of the dressing which overrode the slight bitterness of them having bolted.

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    1. I used to give my bolted lettuce to the hens when we had them, it seems such a waste just to compost them.

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  10. No red tomatoes for us yet - I'll be interested to hear what the cucamelons taste like. - how big do they grow?

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    1. Apparently they taste like cucumbers with a hint of lime and the fruits grow to the size of a grape or an olive and the book says they can be used as a perennial, the root lifted in late autumn and replanted in spring.

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  11. Hasn't your chilli plant done well - it looks like one of the photos from a seed catalogue that I always dismiss as being totally unrealistic! I'm heartened and at the same time a little envious of your cucamelon, way ahead of mine... I have some very, very tiny fruit just forming but I hope they'll grow up to look like yours one day.

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    1. I think I am going to have to give is a good prune to restrict its size as it is getting very unruly and maybe the fruit will get a bit bigger if there are less of them.

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  12. Some great crops, and some bad all round. They are obviously not use to the warm dry weather. All my iceberg lettuce went tall and tough.I gave up growing Marmande cause they take so long to redden up.My brocolli and caulies also seem to go to seed too.But tomatoes are ripening well for me in the tunnel. Not bad overall :)

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    1. The Marmande do seem to take an age to ripen and I don't think you get that many per plant - I much prefer cherry tomatoes anyway - so maybe I'll be having a re-think next year.

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  13. That's a great tip about planting out peppers. I think I might do that with mine, they're not very happy in their pots. I'm impressed with the cucamelon. I didn't manage to get any seeds this year, but I'd love to try one next year. It would be outside though.

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    1. I understand that cucamelons can be grown outdoors as well and are more hardy than they look.

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  14. GREAT find Elaine...would love that herb cutting board :)

    Nice to hear that the Cucumelons are growing well since I'd like to try them out too (seed swap perhaps?) and I'm astonished that you have peppers growing outdoors...nice sized ones too!

    We all have our challenges in the garden each year but I suppose the important thing is to get a good harvest...and you're certainly doing that!!!

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    1. I'd be glad to send you some seed Tanya - as and when they are ready.

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  15. That cutting board is such a great find!

    And I totally feel you on this time being harvest insanity, I look at my table top full of vegetables and although it's a great feeling, I have to remember to breathe or I will become stressed out quickly. Lettuce, Spinach, Cauliflower doesn't work for us in the Summer, too hot, but the seedlings have been started for the Fall so excited to see them in the garden soon enough.

    Great harvest post, thanks for sharing! :

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    1. It is definitely hard work processing all the veggies that are harvested, but I still feel immensley proud to think that I have grown all this.

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  16. You're doing well and it's all looking good. That board and chopper is a real bargain.
    I think that potatoes and cucumbers will be successes, with sweetcorn and tomatoes failures. Flighty xx

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    1. I don't bother growing sweetcorn as I have only ever had one decent harvest. But I do have cucumbers coming out of my ears - I didn't get any at all last year, so I don't mind too much.

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  17. Your harvesting looks so delicious! I don't know what has happened in my garden this year but I certainly wouldn't be able to fill the salad tray. My successes have been the plums, figs and peppers. However the failures have certainly outweighed the successes, I have one runner bean! How did that happen? The tomatoes have been a complete waste of time and the cucumbers have produced two. We have green fingers, we have years of productive growing so I am totally at a loss this year. Time to move I feel. x

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    1. You win some, you lose some Chel. I have done everything the same way as always, we'll just have to put it down to our extreme weather conditions.

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  18. Bravo for trying out new varieties, it's really paid off! I'm intrigued by the cucamelon. What does it taste like I wonder?

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    1. Apparently it tastes of cucumber with a hint of lime.

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  19. My success have been salad crops, turnip and beetroot. I had many a bolting radish and very few courgettes. However the courgettes still have time.

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    1. My beetroot has done well in the ground but bolted in the containers. No radish either.

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  20. I say it's a success! You're having so many beautiful veggies in the garden. I agree with the tomato part...somehow, they take forever to ripen this year. :) I've been waiting patiently and only a few turn orange each day. :) Can't wait to see what you're going to prepare with your garden harvest.

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    1. I have all my recipe books open - trying to decide what to do with everything. All I need now is the time to do it.

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  21. Wow, that's some harvest you have and it all looks so good! x

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    1. Not bad as you say - but did you notice the distinct lack of tomatoes!
      I don't know what they are playing at this year.

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  22. What a brilliant charity shop find Elaine - and an excellent harvest, I wish I had a bean glut, sadly just a small handful of French beans every few days this year. Oh, and my salad crops bolted too! I am torn about marmande, I enjoy eating them, but they don't provide a particularly heavy crop even on a good year compared to e.g. Gardener's Delight, and yet take up the same amount of space. Lovely looking chillies.

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    1. I'm not sure I'm going to bother with Marmande after this year - although they look spectacular I'm not sure biggest is always best. I have tried 'Ferline' for the first time this year planted outside. They are supposed to be resistant to blight, if they are successful this could be my replacement variety instead of Marmande.

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    2. I'll be interested to see what you think - I grew Ferline a couple of years ago and really liked them, and think I will ditch marmande (tried another yesterday) in their favour. A neighbour grows them outside here, with more sea exposure than I content with, and never gets blight.

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